Too many people think that copyrights and patents are good. What they forget is that copyrights and patents are monopoly powers, and monopolies are never good.

How copyrights, patents, and exclusive contracts are monopolies:

  1. The holder of a copyright or a patent can control who can produce a product.
  2. The holder can keep the product off the market. Someone can buy the copyright or patent to remove the product from the market.
  3. The holder can prevent competition by not licensing competitors.
  4. The holder can demand that products that use a product without the holder's product sold to use it must be removed from the market.
  5. The holder can control the price of the product by limiting production.
  6. The holder can control all copies, limiting the product to rental use.
  7. If the holder controls all copies, the holder can hoard those copies until their rental value increases.
  8. If the holder controls all copies, the holder can permanently destroy the work, removing it from posterity.
  9. The holder can make so much money from the works that he no longer has to work for a living. He is no longer a productive member of society.
  10. Exclusive contracts are monopoly powers over the parties of the contracts.

Examples of the harm caused by these monopoly powers:

  1. College textbooks cost much more, because the class requires a specific book, which has only one source.
  2. Publishers of college textbooks make a new edition every year, so books can't be sold and reused by other students.
  3. A plumbing product manufacturer bought out a competitor to remove the competing product from the market. They also removed spare parts for repairing existing units, so people who already have the products can't fix them.
  4. Movie companies stop producing home copies of a movie, so they can charge more for them at a later date.
  5. A certain Bugs Bunny cartoon will never be seen again. They locked all copies in a vault to increase the rental value years later. But when they opened the vault, they found that the films had disintegrated. No copies survived.
  6. All copies of a movie were destroyed, because one of the owners of copyrighted material in the film later objected to its use in the film, removed permission for its use, and ordered all copies destroyed.
  7. All home copies of a movie were made with different background music because the holder of the copyright did not want copies of the music sold to the public.
  8. Once a work goes out of print, it becomes very hard to obtain a legal copy.
  9. Discontinued software can't be bought legally, but it is also illegal to make a copy, so nobody who needs it can get it.
  10. Software with a useful life of 3 to 6 years gets a copyright for 95 years.
  11. The entertainment products copyright was originally intended to protect are a drain on the economy, because they use up wealth instead of creating more with useful products.
  12. Because patents and copyrights can be sold, they do not protect individuals the way the government intended. Most of them end up in the hands of giant corporations.
  13. Publishers refuse to publish a work without obtaining ownership of the copyright. This is wrong.
  14. Manufacturers refuse to produce a product without obtaining ownership of the patent. This is wrong.
  15. One of the best home computers ever made was forced off the market because a third party figured out and manufactured a simple adaptor that let the computer play video games made one of the big video game companies (see case study of the wrong use of intellectual property below).
  16. The holder of a copyright or patent can become a celebrity because of the works. Royalty is supposed to be unconstitutional in this country.
  17. Exclusive contracts keep people from making money on their work if the manufacturer keeps it off the market.

The correct way to protect intellectual property without going overboard:

Case Study of the Wrong Use of Intellectual Property Law

Here are the events in the order they occurred:

  1. Before 1978, software was not copyrightable. People passed software around because the computers were the expensive part of computing.
  2. Motorola developed the 6809 microprocessor and a set of related integrated circuits (6847, 6883) intended to create a computer system to be included in home computers and embedded computers. Anyone who wanted to use it could buy these chips and build the computer.
  3. Many companies bought the 6809 and its chipset and built computers and embedded systems from them. Among the companies selling computers were Southwest Technical Products Company (SWTPC), Tandy (Radio Shack), Aamber, Dragon Data, ENER, Thompson, Vectrex, and others. It was also used in many arcade games and even Eagle traffic signal controllers.
  4. Several different operating were created for the 6809, including Color Disk Basic for the Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer, Flex (based on CP/M). OS-9 (based on UNIX), and others.
  5. The Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer was the most widely sold computer with the 6809 processor. Introduced in 1979, it was more powerful than the other 8-bit processors, and was the first home computer that could run position independent code. This then made it the first home computer that could run variants of UNIX. It used the entire set of chips Motorola made for the 6809, as well as the Motorola suggested circuits for serial and joystick ports.
  6. Nintendo also used the entire set of 6809 chips and suggested circuits to make its arcade games and, in 1981, its home arcade games. Nintendo somehow assumed that putting its games in cartridges would keep people from copying them.
  7. In the mid 1980s, someone figured out that the only difference between the Nintendo home game system and the Color Computer was the connector and pinout on their game/accessory ports. They created a simple adapter that plugged into the Color Computer accessory port and allowed a Nintendo game to be played on the Color Computer. They sold these adapters for about $10. They also sold adapters that worked with other 6809 computers.
  8. People then discovered that they could use Flex or OS-9 and the adapter to copy the code out of the cartridge and save it on a disk. This was the copyright infringement.
  9. Nintendo sued all of the other makers of 6809 computers for making them so that they could be used to copy Nintendo cartridges.
  10. The judge, not understanding computers, but seeing only the copyright violations, ruled wrongly that all of the other computer makers using 6809 processors must modify their products so they cannot play or copy the Nintendo cartridges.

    The problem is that it can't be done the way the judge wanted it done. There is no way for the computer to know what contains the software it is running or who wrote it:

    There was no way to keep people from copying files with the technology available in the 1980s.

  11. Neither Tandy nor any of the other companies making 6809 computers did anything wrong. None of them intended to do anything wrong. Even the company that made the game adapter did not intend to do anything wrong.

    Yet all of them were penalized because others found ways to do wrong with their products.

    This was wrongdoing by the judge. The innocent must never be penalized.

  12. Most of the companies wrongly chose to discontinue their computers.
  13. Nintendo deprived many people of their computer systems, even though those people had no intent to copy video games. Those systems were no longer supported and the people had to change to MS-DOS.

    The page author lost all of the work he did in the 10 years he owned Color Computers. All of the computers have failed over the years. Nothing else can even read the files. He can no longer read the documents he made, run the programs he wrote, play the educational games he wrote, or look at the images he created.